Melissa Lucio: Innocent Woman on Death Row in Texas

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles & Governor Greg Abbott

Melissa Lucio has spent  over a decade on death row for the alleged murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. In 2008, Lucio became the first Latina woman sentenced to death in Texas.

Listen to the Wrongful Convictions Podcast on this case.

In July, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a Texas court ruling and found Lucio’s right to a “complete defense” had been violated in her original trial. In February, 2021, a sharply divided court of appeals reversed the 2019 grant of relief by a vote of 10 to 7 and her hopes for exoneration are now in the U.S. Supreme Court. Melissa is in danger of receiving an execution date in the near future.

We are not waiting for an imminent execution date to raise awareness and call for action in this case. This petition recognizes that without the intervention of the courts, Melissa's life may depend on a decision by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Texas Governor Greg Abbott. We are urging them to take the unusual step of watching  an award-winning new documentary which sheds light on the controversy of her conviction, revealing a case with no investigation,  a coerced confession, an incomplete defense, and a corrupt DA.

The State of Texas vs. Melissa, a 2020 documentary by Sabrina Van Tassel, highlights many of the concerning facts around Lucio’s case, including the following:
  • Lucio’s lawyers have contested the cause of death, presenting expert testimony from a neurosurgeon that Mariah may instead have died from head trauma caused by falling down a flight of stairs. A fall that was witnessed by Melissa’s children.
  • Lucio’s original lawyer did not call any of her children as witnesses, including the ones who saw Mariah fall down the stairs. What’s more, he willingly ignored evidence that another child had admitted being abusive to Mariah. Right after the trial, he became a Cameron County prosecutor.
  • Raw footage shows the interrogation, which lasted almost seven hours on the night of Mariah’s death, to be clearly coercive.
  • Dr. John Pinkerman, a psychologist, and Norma Villanueva, a mitigation specialist, hoped to testify that Lucio was susceptible to making a false confession during a coercive investigation, were both barred by the trial court from testifying as to her innocence at the guilt/innocence phase of her trial.
  • Armando Villalobos, the district attorney who prosecuted Lucio’s case, was convicted of bribery and extortion in 2014 for accepting over $100,000 in exchange for favorable outcomes in criminal trials. He is now serving a 13 year sentence in prison. He was known to bribe judges and lawyers and was suspected of using Melissa’s case to be re-elected.

Please sign this petition asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to watch The State of Texas vs. Melissa and to recommend that Governor Greg Abbott grant clemency to Melissa Lucio.

For more information on Lucio’s case:

Documentary Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wn4J8lQcNc

Watch The State of Texas vs. Melissa, Free! (limited time special engagement.)

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/news/federal-appeals-court-overturns-mothers-conviction-in-texas-child-murder-case-that-may-have-been-an-accidental-death

https://spectrumlocalnews.com/tx/south-texas-el-paso/news/2020/05/18/death-row-inmate-s-defense-revived-in--the-state-of-texas-vs--melissa-

ADDITIONAL PROCESS INFORMATION

Petitions will be delivered on your behalf if and when an execution date is set.

Additionally, you may also contact the Board at bpp_clemency@tdcj.texas.gov and the Governor at https://gov.texas.gov/contact/ and (512) 463-1782. You can simply leave a voice message, or choose to speak to a representative if you prefer.

Please note: In Texas, the Governor has limited power when it comes to the death penalty. But the story we are told that "it's out of the governor's hands," is only true if we allow it to be. Yes, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles must recommend clemency in that state in order for the Governor to grant clemency (mercy) by commuting a death sentence. But the fact is that the governor appoints the members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. He can choose to appoint members who will take valid claims and concerns more seriously, instead of acting like rubber-stamping gate-keepers. He can still use his position of power and influence to enact justice in the State of Texas.  

Sponsored by

To: Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles & Governor Greg Abbott
From: [Your Name]

We are writing to ask that you to stop the execution of Melissa Lucio for the alleged murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a Texas court ruling and found Lucio’s right to a “complete defense” had been violated in her original trial. In February, 2021, the same court nullified that decision upon rehearing and reinstated Lucio’s death sentence.

As part of your consideration of clemency in this case, we urge you to take the unusual step of watching the film, "The State of Texas Vs. Melissa," an award-winning new documentary which sheds light on the controversy of her conviction, revealing a case with no investigation, a coerced confession, an incomplete defense, and a corrupt DA.

We further urge you to find a path toward clemency in this case and spare the life of Melissa Lucio.

Thank you for time and attention to this urgent and serious matter.